As often happens, one excellent COTD, in this case JP’s examination of possible avenues of gun policy reforms, begat another, this one on a topic that I have been remiss is not posting about myself. John Billingsly writes about so called “mental health reform” in the context of gun control. Deciding that citizens should lose their rights because other judge them as mentally ill is a practice that should start the ethics alarms a-ringing, since this is a favored means of mind, speech and political activity control in totalitarian regimes. I would think that the idea would cause chills to run up the spine of any patriotic citizen, rightish or leftish, especiall when “the resistance’ wants to veto a Presidential election by declaring that President Trump’s boorish style and on the wrong side of history policies prove he is mentally disabled. I’m sure they think he shouldn’t be allowed to purchase a gun. Calm, reasonable, rational types like Howard Dean, Maxine Waters and Michael Moore, sure.
I don’t see any dangers to our rights when gun possession is withheld from someone who proclaims he is Shiva the destroer while running naked through the streets waving a dead badger overhead. As we have seen, however, in this area anti-gun zealots are counting on the slippery slope. Taking away rights based on what someone might do begins to edge into pre-crime.
Here is John Billingsly’s Comment of the Day on the post, Comment Of The Day: “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/7/17: Election Day Edition”:
I want to elaborate on one statement, ”I believe for any serious debate to continue on gun control, we have to have mental health reform. “
I agree that there needs to be more access to mental health care, but it appears from current data there is only one area where contact with the mental health system seems to correlate with significantly increased risk of death by firearm and that is suicide. About 60% of deaths involving firearms are suicide and about 50% of successful suicide attempts are by firearm.
The major predictor of future violence is a history of violence not the presence or absence of mental illness. I believe anyone who has been found to be guilty of an act of violence, including any kind of domestic violence, should be denied the right to purchase a firearm. My understanding is that this is pretty much the law although there have been slip ups in administering it.
A group of people who do show a high incidence of violent behavior are substance abusers. Anyone convicted of a drug or alcohol offense should be prohibited from being able to legally acquire a firearm. There should be a mechanism to allow for the restoration of the right to buy a firearm in those cases such as simple possession where no violence was involved, and the conviction did not involve a more serious crime such as trafficking. Just from my anecdotal experience, people under the influence of drugs have been the most dangerous, unpredictable patients I have had to deal with.
The laws requiring reporting of persons with mental illness vary from state to state. Florida follows the Federal Law that prohibits possession of a firearm or ammunition by any person who has been “adjudicated a mental defective” or involuntarily “committed to any mental institution.” Persons who fall into these categories are reported to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement who maintains a database. The FDLE is authorized to report these to the federal government and other states exclusively for the purpose of determining lawfulness of a firearm sale or transfer. The information may also be used to make decisions regarding a concealed carry permit. There is a mechanism in the law for restoration of rights.
In Florida a person who seeks voluntary hospitalization may be determined to meet the same criteria as an involuntarily committed person under certain circumstances. The treating provider must certify that they are imminently dangerous, they must be allowed a chance to challenge the certification as to their dangerousness, and the court must review the certification and order the record to be submitted. Continue reading
JP‘s timely and thoughtful Comment of the Day on #4 in yesterday’s Warm-Up would also be a germane COTD on #3 of this morning’s Warm-up.
Unlike the anti-gun “Do Something!” chorus, JP actually examines the likelihood of two widely proposed gun regulations having any measurable effect on the problem they are supposed to address.
Below is JP’s Comment of the Day on the post, Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/7/17: Election Day Edition.
I’ll be back at the end, with quite a bit, frankly.
I think [the “We have to do something!” response] is virtue signaling because it accomplishes nothing and because doing something just to do something can be reckless. Mostly, I have been ignoring these incidents because I have no better solution. Americans have a right to own a gun. However, in the increasingly intense aftermath of the 2016 election, I have been amazed at the number of people who I believe to be intelligent that have thrown logic and reasoning out the window. Therefore, I have decided to investigate some versions of “doing something” to see what they might accomplish.
Outside of total gun confiscation, the most common types of gun control proposed are bump stock bans and closing the gun show loophole. According to CNN (take that for what it’s worth) there were 12 bump stocks found on the weapons used in the recent Vegas strip shooting. For those of you who are not aware of what a bump stock is, it is a device that is attached to the weapon to simulate rapid fire. What it actually does is compensates for the slowness of the user at the expense of accuracy. For example, if you were using an AR-15 you would steady the weapon with your shoulder. If you are pump firing, the rocess involves bracing the rifle with the non-trigger hand, releasing the grip on the firing hand (leaving the trigger finger in its normal position in front of the trigger), pushing the rifle forward in order to apply pressure on the trigger from the finger, and keeping the trigger finger stationary. During a shot, the firearm will recoil (“bump” back) and the trigger will reset as it normally does; then, the non-trigger hand pulls the firearm away from the body and back to the original position, pressing the trigger against the stationary finger again, thereby firing another round when the trigger is pushed back. During this process, it is common for the magazine to be emptied in a quick manner.
Bump stocks cost about $100, though the price depends on the quality. I’ve read that you could do a makeshift bump stock using some rubber bands, making it difficult to regulate. So the question remains, is the bump stock something that should be available to the public? To me, the answer is no. A bump stock is not a feature of a weapon. As such, banning it does not infringe on Second Amendment rights. Furthermore, the bump stocks create a loophole in the assault weapon ban. Finally, since its purpose is to sacrifice accuracy for speed, using the bump stocks are dangerous and irresponsible. A smart gun owner knows the importance of environment, accuuracy, and aiming at a target. While it might be fun to shoot quickly, I can see no way a bump stock could ever be used responsibly (though feel free to contribute one). Continue reading
I would love to post a Comment of the Day by a full-throated and honest advocate of new gun control measures that will “stop gun violence,” but have yet to read one that isn’t a poorly-veiled attack on the Second Amendment. On the other side, we have Rusty Rebar, one of many Second Amendment advocates on various post-Las Vegas Strip massacre threads here, who registered a tough indictment of the “do something!” anti-gun lobby.
Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/3/2017: In the Wake Of Las Vegas…
“Hell, the NRA used to support background checks, although they no longer do. What’s changed? Why is there that disconnect?”
I think this is attributable to the gun control crowd. The NRA used to be more conciliatory when it came to “common sense” laws. But the gun control crowd kept pushing and pushing, and the NRA has basically said “not one more inch”. So now, even something that is considered “common sense” to everyone will get no traction, because the gun control crowd kept pushing things.
I have said this before, and will recap here. There is a way to do background checks that will be acceptable, and even preferable, to everyone, but the gun control crowd would never allow it.
First, we need to understand the purpose of a background check is to determine if the person buying the gun is legally eligible to do so, nothing more, nothing less. That is not what gun control proponents want though, they want more, they want a registry of all purchases. That is beyond the scope of a background check. Continue reading
Following the Orlando terror attack, Chicago Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg, convinced that the attack wouldn’t have occurred if only we had sufficient gun regulations, decided to demonstrate how easy it would to obtain an AR-15 in Illinois. [This was already a bad start to his investigative reporting, since Steinberg didn’t investigate the gun used in Orlando: it wasn’t an AR-15. Then again, since anti-gun zealots don’t care about such details (“All guns BAD”) and low-information citizens still trust the news media not to misinform them, this didn’t matter to the reporter. But I digress…)
A background check was triggered by Steinberg’s application for the weapon, and he was rejected. It seems the reporter had an “admitted history of alcohol abuse,” and there was a charge for domestic battery on his record.
Isn’t that wonderful?
Children: here is the meaning of “to be hoisted by your own petard.” Say thank you to Mr. Steinberg! Continue reading
Can’t ban stupidity, unfortunately…
The Associated Press reports that in Grants, New Mexico, 23-year-old Damon Perry beat his friend, 23-year-old Christopher Paquin, to death with “his hands, feet, an electric guitar and a microwave.”
Perry claimed he and Paquin had been drinking, but that his drinking buddy began “to change into a zombie” and tried to bite him. Naturally, he defended himself with gusto.
Perry also mentioned that he’d been binge-watching The Walking Dead on Netflix prior to the incident.
How could this happen in a trustworthy institution?
The Washington Post reported this week that Robin Anthony Toogood II resigned as principal of Jennie Dean Elementary School, a job he had held since 2009. He also surrendered his Virginia teaching and administrative license. Toogood, who had worked as a teacher and administrator in Washington D.C. area public schools since 2000, had not only falsely claimed to have a doctorate in education, he also never received an undergraduate bachelor’s degree.
Manassas City officials never checked Toogood’s credentails when he was hired as principal five years ago. The fake degrees were only discovered because he applied to be an elementary school principal in neighboring Prince William County, where to his evident surprise, a proper background check followed. It revealed Toogood’s resume to be Toogood to be true.* He had falsified transcripts from the University of Maryland Baltimore County, Trinity Washington University in the District and Regent University in Virginia. The County alerted Manassas schools, which confronted Toogood. He did not deny the findings and resigned.
He is also apparently a pastor. Manassas City discovered that Toogood also claimed to have earned a doctorate from Andover Theological Seminary and had not.
The Post reports that Toogood had previously been a teacher in D.C. public schools and held administrative positions at several D.C. public charter schools. D.C. public school officials confirmed to the Post that Toogood had taught there from 2000 to 2005, after which he was an administrator at Friendship Collegiate Academy from 2006 to 2007 , and principal of the Center City charter school from 2008 to 2009. The D.C. Public Charter School Board’s spokesperson told the Post “that the schools conduct their own background checks with board guidance.”
Nice job, guys. Continue reading
Consequentialism rules supreme in Washington, D.C.; that is the tragedy of our political system. If unethical conduct is perceived as having a positive outcome, few in D.C. will continue to condemn the means whereby those beneficial and lauded were achieved. Worse, the results will be seen as validating the tactics, moving them from the category of ethically objectionable into standard practice, and for both political parties
Thus we should all reluctantly cheer the likely demise of the Senate’s gun control bill yesterday. The compromise background check provision that failed wasn’t perfect, but it would have been an improvement over the current system. Nevertheless, the post-Sandy Hook tactics of gun control advocates, including the President and most of the media, have been so misleading, cynical, manipulative and offensive that their tactics needed to be discouraged by the only thing that has real influence in the nation’s Capital: embarrassing failure.
The tainted enterprise begins with the fact that it should not have been a priority at this time at all. Newtown did not signal a crisis; it was one event, and that particular bloody horse had left the barn. The supposedly urgent need to “prevent more Sandy Hooks” was imaginary, but it apparently served the President’s purpose of distracting attention from more genuinely pressing matters, notably the stalled employment situation and the need to find common ground with Republican on deficit and debt reduction. Meanwhile, the conditions in Syria have been deteriorating and North Korea is threatening nuclear war: why, at this time, was the President of the United states acting as if gun control was at the top of his agenda? It was irresponsible, placing political grandstanding above governing. In this context, Obama’s angry words yesterday about the bill’s defeat being caused by “politics” were stunningly hypocritical. The whole effort by his party was about nothing other than politics. Continue reading
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: as a long-time supporter of more effective gun controls, the sickeningly dishonest and unethical campaign for them in the wake of Newtown has placed me in a camp I never thought I’d be. Such tactics should never be allowed to succeed, because they debase democracy.
Yesterday, I noted that CNN has abandoned reporting for issue advocacy, a bright-line breach of journalistic ethics. Now Connecticut’s Senator Chris Murphy (D) has attempted to use his position and influence to abridge free speech, unfairly restrict the advocacy of an issue opponent and encourage media censorship of a political viewpoint.
Eugene Volokh published Murphy’s letter to Fox, the text of which tells me he has no more business sitting in the Senate than Kim Jong-un or Daffy Duck. The letter, addressed to Rupert Murdoch, reads… Continue reading
This is really pretty simple, or ought to be.
On Tuesday, CNN released a press announcement unequivocally stating its support for the background check provisions of proposed gun control legislation. It declared that it would devote two days to the issue, and on Wednesday, Democratic Senator Joe Manshin (WV) thanked CNN news anchors for their support in the gun debate, saying to John Berman and Christine Roman, who had just presented, as promised, a completely one-sided view of the issue, “We appreciate your support.”
This, from the self-proclaimed “Most Trusted Name in News,” is the canary dying in the mine of honest, objective, ethical national journalism. It shouldn’t matter if you approve of background checks, though that is CNN’s disgraceful gambit: a large majority of the public does, and a large majority of the public approves of unethical journalism when it supports their preference. Not to be indelicate, but they are fools. A news organization that only presents one side of an issue or that slants its coverage to influence policy isn’t a news organization at all, but an ideological shill, and a tool of political manipulation. Continue reading